Category Archives: Inspiration

What’s In A Name?

For anyone who has been following our adventures via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you will have noticed two major developments. I wanted to share these with you, as well as give the background as to why this has happened.

Cabin Fever

Firstly, we have dramatically moved forward with our Life Changes and adventures! Having spent two glorious months in Florida this past winter we had an absolute blast! After suffering through the previous ‘winter from hell’, stuck at home in our northern based home, I developed a severe case of cabin fever and was determined not to go through that again. Our new reality will heretofore include both living aboard our boat ‘Boogaboo’ full time from April to October and then spending as much time in the land of the palms as possible during the off season.

fort lauderdale beach

Walking on Fort Lauderdale Beach in January

A Better Name

Sharing our travels and excitement and being able to connect with so many like minded folks online has been – and continues to be – an wonderful thing. With that in mind, I felt it was time to better define what we are about and, as such have been migrating from my ‘Boogabooster’ moniker to something that is many times more recognizable with the online world. This was the inspiration for the new ‘branding’ under the name of  ‘Boats, Beaches and Bars’. Who amongst us couldn’t find an affinity with at least one of those three things ;-)

With our first love being our boat and our boating lifestyle, the new usernames would have to reflect that. So, ‘Boats’ was an easy one. Even if someone doesn’t have a boat of their own, there are many who simply like to look at them and learn about them. Heck, many times I’ve received comments from people who tell me they are living their boating dream vicariously through our journeys!

Spring launch & the start of another season of living aboard ‘Boogaboo’

Next, as we look forward to and enjoy our winter travels south so much, the term ‘Beaches’ not only provides an instant, connectable connotation for new visitors to my social media feeds, but it’s also something that inspires and motivates me to keep pushing forward with our Life Changes :-) Like the saying goes; ‘Life’s a Beach’ and we love ours :-)

Finally, the term ‘Bars’ was something that I initially had reservations about using. Sounded kinda on the skids, if you know what I mean?? But after seeing how much our Facebook followers seemed to like – and ‘Like – our pics and stories from Florida and especially Key West, it became a no brainier. Besides, ‘Boats Beaches and Bars’ has a nice ring too it.

Duval Street in Key West

Cheers to a great day on Duval Street in Key West.

The final step was to do the same name change on my Google properties. That included my Google+ profile and YouTube Channel. Some of my YouTube followers asked why the change, but when I pointed out that my Channel address stayed the same (, I think they were okay with the new name.

So, after roughly a month since changing those site names over, I’ve seen an impressive increase of new followers on each one. I hope that everyone likes it and I’m able to expand my audience with this change. So far, so good :-)

Feature Length Travel + Cruising DVD Now Available

It is with great pride that I am happy to announce the release of my first, Feature Length Travel video; ‘Cruising The Trent Severn Waterway’! After many months of capturing, editing and producing this project, I am delighted to have the finished product in hand and have begun marketing it to an enthusiastic audience.

Have a look at my ‘Teaser’ clip to see what it’s all about;

Initially, I made the video available for purchase as a digital download and  received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who purchased their copies. The process of getting it mass produced in the DVD & Blu-ray formats proved to be a bit of a hurdle that I had to overcome.

Learning Curve

Although I have been editing and sharing videos online via both my YouTube Channel  as well as on my Facebook Pages ( and ), getting something manufactured on an industrial scale was a new game for me. While moving through that process, I learned more than I thought I would have to. My previous experiences with editing, both video and stills, as well as layouts and more came in handy.  The issues I had was, that when dealing with a mass producer, there were new techniques and terminologies to learn.

The biggest difficulty was understanding what the manufacturer needed for certain file types for the artwork. Although I had submitted what I thought was the file types they were requesting, it seems that there are more than one type for the same file extensions! So here is me, on the phone with their reps and searching the Interweb for applications that could convert my (seemingly) perfectly good artwork into something compatible with their system.

Dealing with a firm that does this type of thing over and over, with many years under their belts, I found myself having to remind them that this was a new thing for me. As you could imagine, this proved to be an increasingly frustrating part of the project. I’m glad that we were able to plow through while keeping the hand holding to a minimum ;-)

A Kid at Christmas

The result was a tangible product that I was happy to hold in my hand for the first time! Like a kid at Christmastime, I tore into one of the boxes as soon as I picked up the first run at the manufacturers. Only this time, it wasn’t a surprise from Santa, but rather a unique creation that came from my heart. Yes, I am very proud of my efforts and have been humbled by the responses I have received from my viewers.

Crusing DVD cover

My Cruising The Trent Severn Waterway’ DVD/Blu-ray cover

Currently, I have both the DVD/Blu-ray combo packs, as well as the Digital Download version available through my online store.

I have to add that setting up the online store for the first time was another daunting task. Even though I used a pre-built template offered by an established service provider, some of the intricacies proved to be somewhat frustrating while moving through that process.

I find it amazing that the simplest bits of information are sometimes completely left out of the setup instructions. Again, I put that down to the fact that the developers are already familiar with what has to happen in a given situation (country of origin for orders, for example), and assume that the end user is intuitively ‘hip’ with the process. Of course, now that everything is in place, the subsequent projects should move much more smoothly and be a LOT quicker ;-)

More to Come

Fort Lauderdale Florida Beach

Inspiring times in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This project marks a milestone in our lives, and I look forward to producing even more travel videos as we move forward. This past winter, we spent a glorious month in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I was able to capture a lot of video from that adventure. Over the coming weeks, I am going to begin editing that production together and hope to have it available by Christmas time this year.

So stay tuned!

Importing a Vessel Into Canada From The United States

old glory

Old Glory flying proudly over MacRay Harbor

A few years back, we purchased our current boat (Sea Ray 400 Sedan Bridge) in the U.S. and brought it home to Canada. I wanted to share what we learned, as there is some confusing information online and I’m hoping this will make it clearer for anyone wanting to do the same thing.

 Before we actually went ahead with the purchase (when we were still internet shopping for our dream boat), we did some preliminary research as to what we might need to do to make things go smoothly with the ‘import’ process. Good thing, because there is a lot to learn.

Getting The Right Story

Getting the boat into Canada was actually very simple, once we knew exactly what had to be done. The correct term is ‘Importing A Vessel Into Canada’. But please, don’t take my word for it – you REALLY should call Canada Customs to get their story. But don’t be surprised to get more than one interpretation of what is required – we got three different ones!

If you are considering having your boat trucked into the country, the firm you use should be able to handle the border crossing directly, if they are a licensed broker. Check with any potential companies to see what services they offer. The only part you would be handling in that scenario is any Custom Brokerage fees, and the HST on the boat. If you have a trucking firm in mind already, check with them to see how they approach that issue.

Michigan to Ontario by Water

Our boat was purchased at MacRay Harbor in Harrison Township, Michigan. It is located on Lake St. Clair just north of Detroit. Our journey home took us through Lake St. Clair and north on the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario (where we ‘Imported’ the vessel). Onward from there, we traveled north on Lake Huron, through Georgian Bay and down the Trent Severn Waterway to our home port.

St. Clair River boating

Boating north on the the St.Clair River.

Canada Customs

Whatever way the boat comes into the country, whether by land or sea, it is subject to Canada Custom’s scrutiny. As we entered by water, we were obliged by law to report the boat being in Canada upon making landfall. Arriving at Sarnia Bay Marina, I gave Canada Customs a phone call as soon as the boat was secured, letting them know that both my wife and I had re-entered the country as well as the fact that I wanted to import the vessel. We were given a 9 digit number when clearing our passports, but more on that later. . .

In most instances, a Customs officer would come to the boat, take a look around and perform the required paperwork there. In our case, however, on the night we arrived, they were too busy at the border crossing to send anyone, so we had to walk over to them to facilitate everything.The Bluewater Bridge border crossing between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan is usually quite busy, so it’s no wonder that they couldn’t spare anyone.

Bluewater Bridge

The Bluewater bridge between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan.

Bill of Sale

All I had to show the Customs folks was the bill of sale and the ‘Deletion From Documentation’ from the previous owner, then pay the HST on the sales price. As it was, the only thing questioned by the woman in charge was how I got the boat so cheap! Quick note; have available any web listings, emails or whatever else you can supply to back up the purchase price – which I did. We bought the boat through a local yacht broker, so that made things look better & more ‘legit’ to the Customs folks.

One other thing to make note of is how much you are going to have to pay to Canada Customs. Under the terms of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), any boats built in either Canada, the United States or Mexico during the past number of years is only subject to the HST (in Ontario), and free from duties.

Buyer Beware of Duties

Now, here’s where a HUGE, double caveat comes into play. One should make sure that the boat they are bringing into the country was indeed built in North America. We know of a boater who was unexpectedly hit at the border with a big duty fee because his particular model was built in England. Even though his newly bought vessel was an ‘American’ company (Viking Yachts), that particular model came from England (Princess Yachts), so there was a 9% duty to be paid. Oh ya, and the 13% sales tax on top of it all.

The other kicker is that Custom’s won’t take a cheque for amounts greater than $200, so make sure your Visa card is in good standing. Again, if you are simply having your boat trucked back, a custom’s agent should be able to give you the rundown on all of your obligations.

One final note on the sales tax. The boat will be assessed the tax amount on the day it crosses the border – not the day you bought it. What I mean by that is that from the time we took possession of our boat (paid for it) and the time it entered Canada was about three weeks later. During that time, the Canadian dollar actually rose against the U.S. buck, so we ended up having to pay less HST than I had initially anticipated. Plus, since we were out of the country for a few days to get the boat, I could claim the exemption entitled to me for the time out of the country and apply it to the boat purchase price. After all, we didn’t bring any cheap booze back with us ;-) All in all, that part worked out way better than I even thought it could!

Keeping a close eye on all systems of the new ship.

Keeping a close eye on all systems of the new ship.

Deletion From Documentation

Ok, back to the part about ‘Deletion From Documentation’ I mentioned. Boats in the United States can be considered a second home, complete with a mortgage and all the financial repercussions that go along with that. So, many boats are ‘Documented’ with the U.S. Coast Guard, as an official status as to who owns – or is ‘Titled’ to – the boat. This would also include any creditors that may appear on the Title. Think of it like a Deed to your home. Same idea.

How then does one perform this ‘Deletion’ process you ask? Simple. Pay someone to do it for you! I found a firm online that takes care of all that stuff for a very reasonable fee of only $250. Do a Google search for those services to find an appropriate representative. And don’t worry where they are physically located – our guy was in California and it all worked out fine. Thank you InterWeb :-)

border crossing

Border crossing at Sarnia, Ontario

Would we consider buying a boat in the U.S. again? In a heartbeat!!! The only reason we were able to be able to buy the boat that we did was because of the dramatic savings – 40% less in our case – over buying a similar model here in Canada.

Yes, it was initially stressful, with all the running around and setting things up to make it actually happen. That was compounded by the fact that we had to drive home, through mostly foreign waters, on a boat that was brand new to us. Not only that, but it was a complete change from the type and style of boat what we had been driving previously.

Numbers Game

One final note about driving a U.S. registered boat into Canada; if you don’t have a chance to get your Ontario (in our case) registration numbers for the boat right away, be prepared to be boarded by Canada Customs officers at any Ontario port you may visit. We were approached both at Kincardine on Lake Huron (our first stop after leaving Sarnia) and then again at Parry Sound on Georgian Bay. There are Customs officers that travel around to all ports of entry to make sure everything is copacetic with both Canadians AND Americans visiting these ports, checking mostly to see if they have cleared their passports. This is where that 9 digit number I alluded to earlier comes in to play. When you get it, best bet is to write it down and have it at the ready, as they WILL ask you for it.

All that said, it was an adventure to remember for the rest of our lives and immense inspiration to one day soon travel further and farther! I’d say that if you had an opportunity to do the same – and save a few bucks – then go for it. Well worth the running around, by far.